My favorite professor: Dr. William Hrezo

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Now, before anyone gets offended, I must say that Dr. William Hrezo is not my favorite professor because I like him the most. It is not that I don’t like him – it is just that I’d also have to include Dr. Samson, or Dr. Saperstein, or Dr. Fu (the head of the Foreign Language department), or Mr. McDarmont, or any of the numerous, wonderful professors I have had over my past two years at Radford. Dr. Hrezo is my favorite professor because he taught me things I did not expect to learn from his class. I state his full name because there is another Dr. Hrezo on campus – his wife, Dr. Margaret Hrezo – who I’ve never had a class with.

I never expected he would become my favorite professor. I took a class in Political Theory because I was under the impression that choosing a Political Science major would increase my chances of getting a job. I wanted to be an English major, but I was told to believe that I’d have to support my mother after I graduated college, and “English bachelor’s degree” is synonymous with “Starbucks barista” in today’s culture. I was prepared to work hard for a class in a topic I did not like and did not want to major in.

Dr. Hrezo taught me more than I ever expected him to.

My first class with him was a freshman political theory course. He never allows students to come in late. In fact, students can see him staring at his watch during the last few minutes before class starts, waiting for class to officially “start” so he can close the door. I was used to that kind of thing from attending Ferrum College (which has a school-wide attendance policy that both automatically requires that you attend 75% of your classes AND counts you as absent if you are late), but many students, especially freshmen students, were not. He was strict about essays and assignments and did not allow students to use electronics in his classroom.

Towards the end of the semester, I understood why.

I learned more in his class, especially his freshman class, than I would ever have learned in any of the classes I’d had up to that point. He gave me a better perspective on political views I already had; he didn’t exactly change my mind (I’m still a raving feminist, I’m still pro-choice, and I’m still a pro-gay-marriage pseudo-lesbian), but he taught me how to discuss my political views with intelligence and clarity.

But that is still not the reason he tops my list.

My last semester as a Political Science major was one of the worst semesters of my life. Anyone who knows me personally can tell you why. I was crying on almost a daily basis. My two year relationship with my ex-fiancee was bursting into flames. Towards the end of the semester, my mother gave me news I hoped I’d never have to hear. Everything was falling apart, and it was all I could to to put on a pair of sweatpants and drag myself to class.

I am pretty sure Dr. Hrezo knew something was going on. The day after my mother gave me her devastating news, was also the day of my Political Science 300 midterm. I was crying, though trying to hide it, as I usually do. My hair was a mess because I lost my brush and couldn’t bring myself to look for it. I was wearing a pair of cut-off sweatpants and a T-shirt covered in holes. I was really sick for a short period and had to miss about a week and a half of class.

Dr. Hrezo was more supportive of me than I had any right to expect.

It was hard to pick between Dr. Hrezo and Dr. Fu. They were both supportive of me during that semester, but although Dr. Fu is still a very supportive, understanding professor who will do anything to help her students, and although the Chinese I’ve learned since I started attending Radford is arguably more valuable than those two semesters of Political Science, I still have to say I value the things Dr. Hrezo taught me more because they changed my mindset and the way I view the world. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I think his Political Theory course should be mandatory. Chinese is important to me, but I think the same effect can be gained from learning a language like Russian or Arabic, both of which are offered at RU. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of that freshman political theory course.

But even so: Take his course. You will not regret it.